Need a cuddle and someone much braver than I to tell me what to expect/do

VioletStripe

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Hello all, I've been a bit quiet on here as of late. This a lot of wordyness and I won't go into loads of detail so bear with me....

My beloved Connemara developed melanomas (rather, he had always had one or two since I bought him aged 4 (bloomin greys), but many more have developed this year at an alarming rate). We know there is one internally now sitting above the left hand side of his pelvis and near his spine, and this morning me and the head vet have decided to have him PTS before this winter - in order to prevent deterioration of his quality of life. We tried the vaccination, which unfortunately doesn't seem to have done enough. I am so glad I know we tried everything, though.
I am not prepared to let him get to the point of suffering. As we don't know how quickly this could move, I would rather call it early while he is still happy and know he has had the best possible life and will have known no suffering (I'm sure he will argue his yearly spring grazing muzzle and lack of apples suffering, though).
Letting him get to the point of needing to do it as an emergency case and/or for something to suddenly, awfully go wrong is literally something that keeps me up at night. Is it terrible I feel relieved that we have a plan, and I know it will be done? The uncertainty for months and watching and waiting and seeing things that may or may not be there has been so taxing...I feel so relieved? Is that really sick??

He's 14, and in July we'd had each other 10 years. He's my horse of a lifetime and I didn't know it was possible to love anyone or anything so much. I am going to spoil him rotten over the coming weeks, and I have already made a plan with my OH to take him out on a hack or an in-hand walk and have a 'picnic' with him.

I've spoken about the nitty gritty details with the vets but I would like some advice from you... This is my first horse and while we had my childhood dog PTS when I was 16 (9 yrs ago now), I know this is very much not going to be the same.


I think I'm going to have a break from horses for a bit - if I feel like going for a lesson or something I will, but I'm not even going to consider loaning or getting another for 6 months - 1 year minimum. I know it's always personal, but does this seem smart? Will I have a massive, empty hole in my life (I mean besides missing my boy)? Should I give up horses and pets entirely so I know I won't feel like this again? Am I just too soft?


All my stuff - should I sell/donate it? We have a very nice, barely used saddle. More rugs than I can count (some only bought last winter). Grooming kit. Lotions and potions. Should I get rid of all of them? I reckon I'll keep my hat and boots - but do I get rid of everything else and start fresh as and when? Should I do this beforehand, so it's less painful to go back and clear out?


Did anyone have any mementos made? A family friend of ours is an artist and is doing a painting of him. I don't love the idea of having jewellery made incase it falls off or something. I have so many of his horseshoes - is there something nice that can be done with these?


What should I expect afterwards? I think I want to be with him for it but I know some of my friends said they just couldn't which I totally understand - but I don't think it's right for me not to be?


Can you scatter ashes in public places? Are there restrictions? I would like to scatter them around where we have been hacking as we love it and I would love to keep coming back to remember it - there aren't any bodies of water etc nearby, is this allowed?


Do I need to tell the insurance company this is coming up??


I don't really know what else to ask or say really. I know I am doing the right thing but I'm obviously sad - I was a 15yo when I bought him and I feel like we grew up together and brought each other on. I'm looking at the positives and knowing he had a lovely life with me, and that we were so lucky to have 10 years with each other as that's more than most can ever hope for in life. I think I just need a pat on the shoulder and some advice and to know I'm not alone in this?

Thank you if you have made it this far. I know it's a lot of questions - perhaps not the best way for me to process this, I think I'm in shock... despite preparing myself for the last few months that this probably would be an eventuality!!
 

gallopingby

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So sorry Violet, but the best advice is to do nothing with any of his things for at least a year - unless you absolutely have to. Its surprising how things/ feelings change over time and you may live to regret some of your actions. Yes you should talk to the insurance company or better still see if your vets admin people will do it for you. Why not contact the BHS friends at the end they may be able to advice on local help etc. Look after yourself and enjoy the time you've left together.
 

milliepops

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sorry to hear about your pony OP. i think gallopingby has given some good suggestions. I think in your shoes I'd give away or dispose of consumables like lotions/potions because they go off eventually and are awkward to store but cheap enough to replace. and clean and stow away anything else. you may feel like you want to bring another horse into your life after a while and then you will be glad of your things. alternatively if you decide to go for a share or similar you might want to use your own things. if you don't need the space or cash it's probably best to just park those decisions until things become more clear later on.

re mementos, i think in your position I'd take some tail now while you are still enjoying nice times together and just keep it safe somewhere. then if you decide to do something with it later, you will remember the nice day you had when you cut it. you'll know if you see or think of the right memento. if you have hair and shoes that gives lots of options later on.

basically, i think not trying to make too many other decisions at the moment is the best way forward. concentrate on the *now* and the rest will become clear when you are feeling less raw.

whether or not to stay at the end is a very personal decision and realistically you can probably leave it until the last minute to decide. go with your gut instinct and make sure you have support around you either way.
 

Labaire

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I am sorry VS, I lost my horse of a lifetime when he was 11 due to melanomas, and I also let mine go before it became an emergency or his suffering became too bad. I know how brave you are being, he's a lucky boy and I am sorry you are going through it.

From my personal experiences:I stayed with mine until he was heavily sedated, he was a horse that loved people and wasn't concerned by his vet and assistant handling him. I recommend you aren't there when he is moved afterwards. I would also not have too much time between making the appointment and getting it done-I had two weeks and it was awful. Yes you should inform the insurance company.

I didn't wait, I got a horse on loan immediately and then 6 months later got a youngster (well I already owned but he was abroad). It was a mistake, I should have waited-I didn't enjoy the loan horse despite him being the safest hack ever and the youngster and I didn't gel and I blamed myself (I dont blame only myself now).Its taken a while to get over it and also come to terms with the fact I am no longer the rider I was when I had him (but I am much older than you!).

I have only just had a painting done of him and I lost him in 2013. I couldn't bear to part with stuff for a while and slowly got rid of anything that wouldn't be useful-but it was years later.Be kind to yourself and dont set too many rules.
 

babymare

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I’m so so sorry you are going through this. Such great advice by Gallopingby. But please allow self to grieve and don’t make rash decisions. Lost my beautiful horse of my life 7 years ago aged 14. Still can’t see swedes in Asda without filling up. Look after self. Your are an owner all horses would want. Big big hugs xx
 

OrangeAndLemon

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Have you thought about a final photo shoot? I know a few who have done this just before. If you're in the Cheshire area I can recommend someone, PM me.

As others have said, dont rush anything, take it as it comes. No need to make plans now other than how to enjoy his last week in the sun and to save some tail hair.
 

PapaverFollis

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I'm so sorry. You are making a brave and caring decision. I lost my first horse in an emergency situation in the middle of winter (probably caused by an internal melanoma too, but she only had two small external ones on her dock, so unknown really) and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Having a plan and being in control has a lot going for it, so don't feel bad for having a sense of relief. I would.

Above advice is good. Keep hold of stuff. I'm not sentimental about mementos and things really at all but I like having and using some of Poppy's old things now. One of my dogs sleeps on her old fleece rug, I use her bundled up lead rope as a door clip. I use her grooming brushes still. But equally she went off with her best fleece rug, her headcollar and her last set of shoes on her. I find that weirdly comforting even though I'd have liked to keep them in some ways, on the day I just couldn't strip her off.

I have always and will always do everything in my power to be the one holding my horse's lead rope when they go. But that is personal. Again I find it comforting that they know I'm there.

I've heard that the BHS Friends at the End service is really good.

In terms of ashes, I don't mean to be too practical or crass but my friend got ashes back and it was a huge amount. Not really scattering quantity. I haven't chosen that option for either of mine because I simply would not know what to do with them.

Again, I'm so sorry. It is so hard. Take your time making decisions and keep options open with respect to horsey life going forwards. I've always had other horses to keep on going with after and found that helpful but it's a personal decision.
 

Cragrat

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I'm so sorry, but as those above have said, you have my admiration for making the brave decision for him, and putting him first.

It IS ok to feel relieved - I ummed and ahhed for months, but once it was done, I knew it was right. Weirdly she seemed to too - she normally hates vets, men and strangers, but was very happy with the man who did the deed.

I stayed with her right through - and I'm glad I did, but that is personal.

Don't rush to get riid of stuff, and don't give yourself timelines for getting another or not,or riding again or not. If the perfect opportunity comes along, see how you feel. Don't close yourself off to something that might be perfect, but equally don't rush into something. You'll know if and when it's right.

I love the idea of a last picnic. I had a last ride 18 months before mine went. It was beautiful, I cried the whole way round, but I treasure the memory. We had many last hugs, last walks - all so precious.

Enjoy your last time together confident you are doing the brave, selfless, caring but tough last kindness/
 

millikins

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I'm sorry you are going through this but it is entirely normal to feel a huge sense of relief at having made that decision. As other posters have said, there's no rush to make any other decisions about his things. Best wishes, it's horrible.
 

windand rain

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Do what you feel comfortable with. I keep everything which is fortunate as I found my life was awful without the horse routine and after a few months bought another foal yes it was a bad time and you do need to allow yourself to grieve for him
I am not a fan of memento stuff but think a good painting or very pretty photos are great to have. Ashes are to me a bit pointless the practical side of me says better in bone meal and spread on the fields bit like ashes to ashes dust to dust. I don't need them but it is personal to you. Cremation is very expensive and the money in my view can be better spent. All that die live on in the hearts and minds of those that remember them.
I hope you have a lovely time together and he goes pain free and with you at peace
 

honetpot

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This is what works for me. I make a decision on what I think is when the pony can not live a normal pony life, and as soon as that point comes, which may be sooner, or a lot later, make a plan and stick to it, and then take each day as it comes and forget about it as much as possible.
Life is unpredictable, one of the old ponies was found dead in the paddock when out on loan, some have had to be PTS through acute illness, so to me its makes it all the more important for the rest to go on a good day, before your last memory is a bad one. All I can say is, although their loss does not get easier, the 'plan' once made, makes it as stress free as possible.
 

Labaire

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I should add, I did have two non-ridden at the same time as I lost mine but it was hard replacing him as a ridden horse.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I am so sorry that you are in this position but oh, how I wish that all horses could have such caring responsible owners. My advice is to do nothing that you could change your mind about in the following months, so store everything that you can, you might need it later. As for the ashes, there will be a lot if you have them back, could you ask for a 'sample' that you could scatter along your favourite hack.We have a few mementoes around but they have mostly arisen naturally, like the rowan tree that we call 'Cob's tree' because she used to nibble it on her way out to the field every winter morning. Sister did buy me a weather-vane to commemorate the 2nd Clydie because she said it looks just like her! Everything is very personal and differs from one to another. I am with w&r, I wouldn't pay for individual cremation tbh, I would save the money for something in the future, as it certainly won't make any difference to your horse.
 

planete

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I am very sorry you are in this situation. You are definitely doing the right thing. A friend of mine lost her mare suddenly a few months ago after a sudden bout of colic which the veterinary hospital said was caused by an internal melanoma (she did not have any external ones) and it was awful.

Regarding whether to be with the horse at the end or not, I had always stayed with my horses until I had to have my veteran put to sleep a few months ago when I decided i just did not want to remember the actual death and have the pictures stuck in my mind once again. I handed him over (at home) to very professional people and have not regretted my decision. He was by then a very trusting old boy used to many people handling him so I knew he would not be worried.

I would not be giving any of your tack or rugs away yet. it is incredibly expensive to buy it all at once if you ever decide to have horses in your life again. I made that mistake when I was ill and it cost nearly as much as the new pony when I had to get everything he needed straight away.
 

DizzyDoughnut

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I'm so sorry you are going through this. I had a similar situation with my pony, she had a squamous cell carcinoma that had been nicely small and dormant for a while and it suddenly started growing at a very rapid rate and there was nothing left the vet could do to stop it. We decided to let her carry on as long as she was happy and pain-free.

I 2nd the not leaving to long between making the decision and the actual appointment, the waiting was the worst part for me. I looked at the weather forecast and picked the sunniest calmest day and we sat in the grass waiting for the vet with me giving her a constant supply of all the treats she was never normally allowed, I'm pretty sure she though it was a great morning. I stayed with her while it was done and thanks to my fantastic vet it was as calm and peaceful as it could be. Her last conscious thought was about getting the polos out of the vets pocket. I wouldn't stay around to see them being taken away though. Afterwards although I was obviously devastated I was also really relieved that it was finally over, and there was no longer that stomach churning worry over what you might find when you got to the yard or if you were doing the right thing, when was the right time etc.

Do you need to get rid of any of your stuff? Could you just keep hold of it all for now and see how you feel in a month or so? Mines all folded up in a trunk which I shall probably not open unless I need anything out of it. I donated medication and anything perishable to a local charity. Luckily I still have one pony left buy I surprised myself how quickly I was ready to start looking for another.

I hope that you enjoy your time with him and have a fantastic picnic x
 

fankino04

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So sorry you're going through this but well done on being brave enough to put the horse first. Feeling relieved is fairly normal I think, I've felt so guilty that I was relieved when the last 2 dogs were PTS but it's so emotionally tiring 2nd guessing yourself and worrying about what might happen and when is the right time etc. I agree with not doing anything that you can't undo so keep rugs etc but store them better than I did as when I opened the bin bags I'd put my girls in the moths had had a field day 😢. I stayed with her while she was PTS as it matters to me, I thought I would want to have some time with her after but actually didn't feel she was there anymore so walked away after a quick goodbye. Definitely take some tail hair when you're having a nice time with her so you have options later. Also it took me 3 years to feel the horse shaped gap needed filling so just go with how you feel when you feel it on that one x
 

Sheep

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I am so sorry you are going through this and having to make these awful decisions; your horse is so lucky to have such a kind, caring and thoughtful owner. I think everyone else has made some good suggestions on how to approach things.

We recently had to have one of ours pts (colic, emergency). OH knew straightaway that he wouldn’t stay for it and I initially wasn’t going to either, but changed my mind. There is no right or wrong thing in this situation. If I hadn’t’ve stayed, I knew she was in very safe hands with both a good friend and our YO there too.

If you are struggling to decide I would suggest maybe having a trusted friend organised to be there regardless of whether you stay or not. When my friend had her horse pts a few years ago she asked me to stay with him for her, it was an honour and a privilege to be with him in his final moments and I’m glad I was able to make things a wee bit easier for her.

I am sorry again for all you are going through. X
 

Polos Mum

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well done you for truly putting him first - really better a month too soon than a day too late - you are making 110% the right decision.

No rush to make any big decisions and good advice above. Grief is a funny thing and can lead you in all sorts of directions. I have found horses like a drug addition - very hard to give up. Pets give us so much but we do give it all back again when they leave us.

It is very hard to unsee the final moments - please don't be there when they start to load him up. I personally found it comforting to know it was kind and quick but for my horse of a lifetime my OH was with him - I couldn't bring myself to remember him like that. I think they should be with someone they know and trust but I also don't think that 100% has to be you.

An ashes story to make you smile - I sat on a broken train next to an old guy who I got talking to. He was taking a small pinch of his wife's ashes to the beach - apparently every year on her birthday he sprinkled a bit of her at a new beach, quite lovely I thought. there are no rules, no rights and wrongs.

I had my horse of a lifetimes shoes made into a fruit bowl with his headcollar name on it (carefully taken off his headcollar that he wore) - my logic being when I am old and crabby they will let me keep a fruit bowl in my hospital room or old peoples home (sorry its' so large !!)

Polo shoes.jpg
 

babymare

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I'm so sorry. You are making a brave and caring decision. I lost my first horse in an emergency situation in the middle of winter (probably caused by an internal melanoma too, but she only had two small external ones on her dock, so unknown really) and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Having a plan and being in control has a lot going for it, so don't feel bad for having a sense of relief. I would.

Above advice is good. Keep hold of stuff. I'm not sentimental about mementos and things really at all but I like having and using some of Poppy's old things now. One of my dogs sleeps on her old fleece rug, I use her bundled up lead rope as a door clip. I use her grooming brushes still. But equally she went off with her best fleece rug, her headcollar and her last set of shoes on her. I find that weirdly comforting even though I'd have liked to keep them in some ways, on the day I just couldn't strip her off.

I have always and will always do everything in my power to be the one holding my horse's lead rope when they go. But that is personal. Again I find it comforting that they know I'm there.

I've heard that the BHS Friends at the End service is really good.

In terms of ashes, I don't mean to be too practical or crass but my friend got ashes back and it was a huge amount. Not really scattering quantity. I haven't chosen that option for either of mine because I simply would not know what to do with them.

Again, I'm so sorry. It is so hard. Take your time making decisions and keep options open with respect to horsey life going forwards. I've always had other horses to keep on going with after and found that helpful but it's a personal decision.[/QUOTE l had sense I relief with my girl but never felt guilty. Just relief xx
 

mariew

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I'm so very sorry. It sucks when they leave you too early. I had my soulmate PTS at the age of 11 and am only now wanting another, 4 years later, but I have ridden friends horses and riding school ones to keep my toe in. It's all so individual. I sat with her until the lorry came to take her away an hour later and do not regret it.

One thing about ashes, it's a lot more expensive for an individual cremation. I didn't bother, equally I didn't want bits of hair etc around the house, for me my memories and pictures are enough. I gave a lot of the stuff I never used away and kept useful stuff like bridles, saddle, nice brushes etc. Most of my rugs went to a riding school when we moved house and I couldn't store it.

Only you will know what you can cope with when the time comes. Big hugs for a brave decision.
 

Griffin

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I have always felt relieved when I have had pets PTS because it has always been the right decision, however, heartbreaking. Your boy is lucky to have such a caring owner.

A friend of mine had her YO and a couple of friends with her at the end and I think she took a lot of comfort in having them there. She didn't stay for loading, instead her YO supervised and her friends took her to the nearest coffee shop for some healing cake.

I wouldn't get rid of anything except lotions and potions. Don't put time limits on yourself, just go with how you feel.
 

janem_g

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I made a thread called PTS first time experience, or something similar. Reading it might help you. It's a hard decision but gives them dignity.
 

Caol Ila

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It really sucks. I had to do it back in May when it became apparent that my horse, who was 28 and owned by me through 21 of those years, was not going to have one last summer. Her hind suspensories had gone, she wasn't holding weight, and she was starting to get ataxic. Some days, she was stronger and looked bright and wanted to eat. Other days, she was very flat, not eating. I started marking the days on a calendar -- good days with a smiley face, bad days with a sad face. I was getting more smiley face days than sad face days, but she wasn't putting on weight and she was looking weaker in the back end, even when bright in herself. So I made the decision. I didn't want her to fall. The vet and I scheduled it for a week after the day I called him. I spoiled her rotten that week, but it was a horrible week, just waiting.

On the day, OH and three of my barn friends went with her, and we stood with her until it was done. She went fast. Vet said she was tired; she was done. I knew that. For that last week, I often doubted my decision, but I could see that she was losing her spark. She was done. Once she had gone and we said a final goodbye, we walked away. The vet said we did not want to be there when they removed her. I'm glad I stayed until the end, though. I said that I wanted to be the last thing she saw.

Before she died, we cut off a pile of tail hairs, and I gave them to OH to have things made. I also have a portrait a friend drew several years ago and a horseshoe on my wall.

Back in Febuary, when I was slightly worried about her but still thought she would have more time, I bought a two year old (who turned out to be pregnant). A couple months after putting my old girl to sleep, I bought a second (er...third) ridable horse. I don't feel so sad these days when my semi-unhandled teen mum is being awkward. She seems like an easier project now that I have him. They are using some of Gypsum's stuff, but she was a 16.1hh draft cross, and they are not (she is a PRE, he is a Highland), so they can't use all of it. After I bought the Highland, I realized I could face selling some things, like rugs.

I don't think I could have coped with not having a horse. Even teen mum was preferable to being utterly horseless. However, it's also hard because I don't have that big relationship with these two horses that I had with Gypsum. I miss that. But logically (like I said on another thread), I know that comes with time and experience. It will not happen immediately, no matter what you buy. But teen mum comes to call now, and the Highland whickers when he sees me, so the potential is there.

Tail hair necklace.
IMG_0697.JPG
 
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Emilieu

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You are so brave. The sense of relief is normal, the waiting and the worrying is terrible and tears you apart.
I stayed until the end. It was very quick. If you don’t manage to stay don’t beat yourself up, as I say it was very quick, so it’s not like they have time to worry about who is there and what is happening.
One of these days I will wash his special rug and send it away to get made into a memory pillow. I like the idea of having something to hug.
I got another horse, but I knew before hand that I would. It’s bad enough losing him without losing the lifestyle I love too. Good luck ❤️
Edit to add: re ashes. I was warned years ago that getting the ashes back can be upsetting as there is such a huge amount of them. Just a heads up. I have never chosen to have ashes back as I feel like I was there when the bit that made them them left so it seemed pointless. Just a personal thing.
 

Yeomans

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Really sorry that this has happened but as already been said you are doing the right thing for your horse and yourself. I am on the Kent and Sussex borders and am more than willing to come and give you moral support on the day if you would like. Be kind to yourself.
 

Fluffypiglet

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I'm going to have to go through this as mine has melanoma, one of which is in his neck right next to his spine. We scan/x-ray and it's not close enough yet but it makes me prepare to some degree about what might be in the future. To echo others - you are doing a good thing for your horse and I admire you for it. It's just so very sad. I lost my last horse 20+ years ago and I took a break from horses for 15 years. I kept a fair bit of his tack, most of which is now useless!! But it meant the sadness was less when I had to sort it out and my current horse has old horses posh leather headcollar which is nice. I just swapped nameplates and it's lovely to have that. I wouldn't rush to get rid of stuff that can be kept because you don't know what the future holds, but don't keep it for 15 years like I did. Hopefully you will be able to find a different someone to love as I have eventually done and you may be able to do this sooner than you may think. But maybe don't keep everything, I would sell the things worth a decent amount of cash (saddle) because it is unlikely to fit anything new. If it would help, you could use the money to buy something to remember him by. In the Wired wild wood are lovely on FB (I think so anyway) I kept some tail from my old boy but didn't have his ashes back. He was a sociable beast and I like the idea that his ashes are with other horses and are all together in a field in the sky.
 
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